Identity is a hot topic for discussion these days, or at least the social media makes it look that way. My name is Nawal Lakhdar, project Manager at Pimlico millionQSA- big local and director of Apricot wellbeing. I am originally from Morocco, and I was born in Casablanca. Don’t get too excited this is not going to be as romantic as the film, and hopefully not as boring as some might say.
This is about exploring and talking about identity and what is means to be black African Arab women living in the UK. I am married to a white English man and have good relationship with all my three step kids. Like everyone else life has its own challenges, and we deal with them as a family. To give yousome background about my past life, my immediate family is small, mum, dad and one sister, I have two beautiful nieces aged 4 and 9 years old and the best brother-in-law. Believe it or not but I have close relationships with all my 39 first cousins (they all attended our wedding) and too many uncles and aunties to list here. Like many people my childhood has its ups and downs, good and bad. I had lived through traumatic experiences, extremely poor health as teenager, parents that divorced and remarried a year later (still married now reaching their 49 years next year. My sister and I tell a little joke, “If you didn’t get divorced that year, we could have given your 50 years gold party sooner.”). But it is not all dark and depressing, my life has also had a lot of fun and laughter. And traveling and exploring new places has always been a big part of my life and upbringing.
My curiosity about others has always been a great motivator for building good relationships, but it is only since I moved to England twenty-five ago, in a cold March Day of 1997. That I started to be curious about myself, looking inwards. At the age of 21 and for the first time ever I was faced with questions about my own identity and who I am in this world? Prior to this, I had never had to question who I am and what box do I fit in. My confusion started when I had to complete my first equal opportunities form for a job application. I genuinely struggled to identify a box that fits me! I have never considered who am I? And the truth people presume things about me. Yes, I am from Africa and proud of it, but that doesn’t make it simple. The black women’s box is very unsatisfying and at times patronising. I am equally proud being Arab, raised with Muslim values and influenced by French education. Now married to a white man and living in London so what does that make me?
The truth, I think we are all human first and most of us are just trying to figure things out for ourselves. Identity is such an individual thing, for some it is simple and straightforward, and for others it is core to them and much more complex. But what I believe in is the fact that we are looking to fulfil our lives, to reach some of our potential. And to maintain a good level of health both physically and mentally. To experience love and relationships, which enables us to grow and enrich our exitance. And for me personally when it comes to legacy itself. Well, if people do say, ‘Oh! she was lovely,’ that is good enough for me.